GCSE AoS2 Classical Concerto: Cadenzas

Please find below, for your listening pleasure, a selection of cadenzas from famous classical concertos.

As you know, cadenzas are found at the end of the first (fast) movement of a three movement concerto.

Characteristic features of the cadenza were:

  • it was unaccompanied: it was for the solo instrument alone (although the orchestra might creep in near the end of the cadenza)
  • the tempo was free: the soloist would often vary the tempo, using rubato or perhaps starting off slowly and accelerating towards the end of the solo
  • it was often based on material from earlier in the movement
  • it showed off the soloist’s virtuosity by including rapid scales, arpeggios, ornamentation, a wide register and so on
  • the cadenza was either written out by the composer, composed by the soloist, or by another composer
  • the cadenza almost always happened at the same point in the movement: near the end, just before the coda
  • cadenzas often end with a long trill by the soloist, which is the cue for the orchestra to come back in.
Have a listen to these cadenzas and try to identify the key features.

Mozart Violin Concerto in G major, K.216, First Movement (soloist: Hilary Hahn)(cadenza begins after 8’00”)


Mozart Flute Concerto no.2 in D major, K.314, First Movement (soloist: James Galway) (cadenza begins after 5’30”)


Mozart Bassoon Concerto in B flat Major, K.191, First Movement (soloist: David Breidenthal) (cadenza begins after 5’10”)


Mozart Piano Concerto no.23 in A major, K.488, First Movement (soloist: Vladimir Horowitz) (cadenza begins after 8’30”)


Haydn Cello Concerto no.1 in C major, First Movement (soloist: Mstislav Rostropovich) (cadenza begins after 7’30”)










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